Aleksandr Shchipkov

I would like to talk about the Russian "Bronze Age" without euphemisms, political correctness and other political tricks beclouding Russian people's vision of their own cultural history.

Let's start with memories. Let's recall the situation of the late 1980s early 1990s.

Philological conferences, literary magazines and festivals explicitly favor the topic of the Silver Age slightly "diluted" by Brodsky. Forgotten and under-appreciated in Soviet times, this era needs to be urgently remembered and appreciated. This sacred act of rehabilitation is deemed to be a milestone in the history of "new Russia". The subtext: the cultural space in Russia has been destroyed by totalitarianism. We must think back to the recent years that were rich of culture, that is, to the values and achievements of the Silver Age. Only then will we see a new rise. In short, the item on the agenda is: "Russia until 1913, which we lost."

Year by year, the new trend keeps growing stronger. Against this background, only a few "weird guys", like Slava Lyon, the poet and literary historian, dare to remember the problem of the "Bronze Age". Any attempt to think beyond the border of a new general line in culture is vigorously opposed. Thus, the concept of the "Bronze Age" is ridiculously charged that it supposedly promotes the idea of literary regress, because the "bronze" age is less valuable than the "silver" age. Here comes the unavoidable conclusion: the Silver Age better never end. Then, there would be no regress.

Meanwhile, in the 1970s, some authors, who felt like contemporaries of a new poetic era ("bronze" rather than "silver"), didn't think about regress at all. Just the opposite. By adding a new portion of poetic "gold" to the old literary ingot, they countered the cold relaxation and emptiness of decadency with the renovated faith. The "bronze" age came after the "golden" age in one generation. In 1975, the Leningrad poet Oleg Okhapkin stated this fact in his poem, which is entitled precisely "The Bronze Age", and listed all its persons and performers (Krasovitsky, Yeremin, Ufliand, Gorbovsky, Sosnora, Kushner, Rein, Naiman, Brodsky Bobyshev, Okhapkin, Ozhiganov, Krivulin, Kupriyanov, Shirali, Stratanovsky, Cheygin, Erl, Velichansky and "someone else"). Okhapkin highlighted the point of cultural initiation, which coincides with a religious revelation:

He drew them out of his Temple.
Those, who sold their talents.
To let the Highest reign in hearts,
And the spirit of the womb in sellers.
The poets walked home.
Those, who met God, walked in peace.
And the merchants, who served the golden calf,
Were scattered to the four winds.
Scattered all over the roads,
They came to any threshold.
And their bronze-gray faces
Reflect the Bronze Age slow burning.

Perhaps, the only thing that was not mentioned in Okhapkin's tapestry is a discrete role of Nikolay Zabolotsky, a unique person in the world of literature standing at the borderline between the "silver" and the "bronze" age. But that's a separate topic...

So, therefore, the "Bronze Age" poets brought something back to the culture. Something that had been lost in decadency, rejected in futurism and carefully disguised in Russian literature of the Soviet period. They brought back the gold of tradition, rethought and molded in a different cultural alloy. But the new cultural establishment preferred to ignore this contribution. The concept of "Bronze Age" raised eyebrows and caused some hidden hostility. The intelligentsia did not want to change the coordinate system based on the idea of one privileged era. It was a convenient solution to use the spirit of Russian modernism as ultima thule ("the final frontier", "the utmost island") of the national culture. It allowed to simply preserve the gap declared by the Bolsheviks, who threw Pushkin out of the "modernity ship." The idea of overcoming the gap was forced out to the background of public consciousness.

Modern culture managers pretend that this situation has nothing to do with them. No era, no stress. They prefer to remain silent about the need for a new literary history. The literary modernity is exhibited before the public as a period of "intelligent fiction" for the urban middle class, who has no time to read fundamental texts, but wants to keep up its intellectual status. However, the concept of the Silver Age still plays the role of a universal aesthetic paradigm and one of the cornerstones of Russian postmodernism.

The integration of glamour and "pre-revolutionism" is today's Gestalt of "Russian Modernism" and "philosophical and theosophical research at the beginning of the century." This is something that represents the concept of modern saloon parties, stylized club parties and courtesy. Every second elite weekend school in Rublyovka is styled on "saloons popular at the beginning of the century." That's the way the consciousness of new Russians wags. They now identify themselves as "Global Russians": "a fruit an apple; a planet the Earth; a poet Pushkin; a culture the Silver Age". They don't understand that such annoying kitschiness dumbs them down and vulgarizes cultural realities. They don't understand how inadequate this image of culture is. The main thing for them is that this image is "elite."

If you look at the texts of Okhapkin, the "Bronze Age" poets are elected and called 'Lord'. But modern club culture, art caf?s, book fairs, literary awards and festivals are organized and "elected" by culture managers and publishing concerns; in short, by the "creative class" of the culture, the "bourgeois class" of the spirit. This environment represents knowledge as a product rather than a gift. That is why it lacks in some people and is rife in other people. Such are the rules of the game dictated by the Russian ruling class. That is why, for example, new cultural elitism is obviously combined with an unconcealed caste in the new educational system evangelized by the Ministry of Education under the veil of an "educational reform."

But the fact is that the culture of postmodernism, in which the concept of Russian Silver Age took pride of place, has long been out of the flowering phase. The observation of this culture reveals the phenomenon of reverse. Postmodernism seems to be rolling, rolling back and rushing into antiquity. Sociologists broadly discuss the "technical paganism", "new pantheism" and "new barbarism."

Of course, you might as well say that due to the global crisis the elite has no more money for the culture and has to develop it within the "cheap and nasty" strategy. The refusal to subsidize complex and costly cultural projects gives rise to simple and radical projects. All this is true, but it is only one part of the problem. The second, even more important part is that the archaism of culture is secondary. Its real reasons lie in the archaism of politics.

It's not about thousands of Syrian refugees, these Eastern "barbarians", as Europeans call them. Our own inner barbarian of the West, which has been set at liberty, is much more dangerous. The era of neoliberal panopticon is inevitably slipping away. The time of idols and temples of the post-digital era comes. This means a rapid dechristianization of the Western world. And the elitist concept of culture, for its part, welcomes the moral terror by all sorts of "Pussy Riots" and attempts to call politics "art".

Elitism has already turned into barbarism in arts. Similarly, it has turned into dechristianization and dehumanization in society and politics: fundamentalism, neo-Nazism, new Migration Period flooded Europe, the latter, as a "reward" for centuries of colonialism. For the sake of preserving the situation, the present Western political regime cultivates "a new barbarism" to counter the inner barbarian, who always was on guard, but now he seems to be unleashed, with the outer barbarian. Such is the result of postmodernism that rehabilitated the primitive sacrality and cave instincts.

What is a solution? It involves a straightforward choice between the "new barbarism" and the authority of tradition, between the rule of force and respect for the holy things that equalizes people to a certain extent. Therefore, a new stage of modernity will be laced with common traditional values.

We call it axiomodern. Axiomodern has a bronze color shade reminiscent of the golden classics. This bronze glow, of course, can be noticed not only in literature but also in the sphere of social mores. It is Russia who will play an important role in the return of Europe to Christian roots. Therefore, the "Bronze Age" may be universal. We already have one foot in the new era. Axiomodern has come. And responding to Pasternak's catchphrase: "What millennium is it outside, my dears?" you can answer directly, "Axiomodern. Bronze Age."

Aleksandr Shchipkov, 2015, October